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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Post #43: Moles in the yard

PD has established his dominance over Frank, and Frank pretty much accepts his place in the pecking order.  While it is sad for us to watch Frank’s insecurity around PD there have not been anymore major fights between the two.

Frank enjoys our backyard and he usually takes advantage of the ramps we have around the house. But, he still manages to surprise us by flying on to chairs, tables, and even the bed.

Frank has filled out nicely. He is no longer the skeleton he once was. However, he can no longer fly as high or as far as he once did. Still, he does pretty good.

Frank has learned to ask for attention when he wants it. And, he can be really persistent. He will work his muzzle under our hands and then onto top of his head. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Frank has a pair of ears that need to be massaged or chest that needs to be rubbed.

Frank also does his best to earn his keep as a house dog.

When we first moved to our new house, we had mole trails all over our back and front yards. Frank decided that it is his job to hunt them down. I’m pretty good at catching gophers. I know what to look for in a gopher hole, and how to set a gopher trap.  But I’m not so good at catching moles.

On the other hand, Frank has never caught one, either. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying. He is probably one of the most enthusiastic mole hunters that you have ever seen. He spends hours in the backyard digging trenches. I’ll look out the window and see his butt in the air and dirt flying. He’ll dig for a bit, and then he will grab a grass runner and pull and shake and pull some more until that grass runner has come loose. Then Frank will stick his nose in as deep into the earth as he can. Once he has the scent firmly in his nostrils, he will pull his head out, snort, and start digging the trench again. Frank has been at this for about two years.

He’s never caught a thing.

We have a few cats in our neighborhood. Frank and PD will chase them out of the backyard when they see them back there. I don’t mind the cats. I won’t feed them, but I don’t chase them away.  And I try to be careful about not running over any cats when I pull out of the driveway. Unlike the experience we had on 11th St., we’ve not yet killed any cats in our new home.

There is a large yellow cat that likes to sleep under my truck. I think he’s watched Frank’s futile attempts at catching moles. Sometimes I see him lying in the brush behind our property staring into our yard.  I’m not sure, but he may be smiling while he is watching Frank dig trenches.

Watching Frank’s enthusiastic attempts to catch the moles motivated me into action. I’d done a bit of research and I couldn’t really see that they’re doing a lot of harm. They weren’t killing the grass. In fact, they were probably eating the cinch bugs dining on the roots of my grass.

Sometimes it is a little disconcerting to walk across the lawn and then suddenly sink lower than expected when I step on one of their trails. But that doesn’t happen too often. I’m actually more annoyed by stepping into one of the trenches Frank has dug than I am by stepping onto one of the mole trails.

I have read stories about moles damaging foundations and driveways, but I’m not sure that those stories are true. Most of these stories came from internet sites trying to sell the latest and greatest gadgets for killing moles.  Still, I felt I should do my part to help Frank’s “stamp out the moles” campaign. So I went online, and did some research.

I bought some Super-duper, Extra Large, Guaranteed to Work Mole Traps. I carefully read the instructions, bought some flags to help me carry out those instructions, and set out the next day to mark all of the trails that were crisscrossing our backyard. I’d walk a bit, and when my foot sank down I took a close look at the ground, and if it looked like there might be a mole trail under that grass I’d stick a little red flag into the ground next to where I just stepped.

The idea is that moles do not like to have their active trails shut down. If you step on one and crush the tunnel the mole will come back over overnight and reopen the tunnel.  If you look at the trail the next day, and the trail has been repaired, then you know that you have found an active trail, and that is where you want to set your trap.

By the time I finished, I had about 20 places marked off in our backyard. The next day I went out and selected four spots that I thought might have been reopened. Then I set my traps.

After about a week of hunting down trails and setting traps, I finally got one mole.  I noticed the yellow cat watching me.  Yes, that was definitely a smile.

I was setting traps in the back yard, in the front yard, and in the flower bed.  Only one mole.
One morning, sometime after I’d caught my one and only mole, but before I’d given up, I opened the garage door to go get our newspaper.  There it was.  Just outside the garage door.  The gift from our yellow cat:  a dead mole.

There haven’t been any others. The cat didn’t need to bring us any others.  He just wanted me to know that he could do it.  And he could do it anytime he wanted.

I haven’t had the heart to tell Frank.

And I’ve not bothered to set out any more mole traps.